Our 2023 guide to keeping members engaged and reducing member churn

Written by
Published on
April 28, 2023

Are you looking for ways to improve prospect journeys and retain members?

Membership retention strategies abound, but no matter how many membership strategies you employ, addressing member churn, and finding new members is a continuous challenge. This is no different if you are a professional association, a sporting club, a business, or a trade union.

There is good news though! Major advancements in both tech and data analysis are yielding amazing results for membership teams who are embracing new technologies.

We've gathered our best tips for membership retention from our membership clients and the SwiftFox expert membership team. With all these great tips you can feel confident that you are providing holistic member service from the very beginning and that you are engaging members across the membership lifecycle.

So, let’s dive in and discover how to increase membership retention, strengthen your communication channels, and build your membership community.

Introducing Your Data First Membership Strategy

Personalise, personalise, personalise

You’ve no doubt heard this before, but personalisation is everything. According to Google’s marketing and measurement survey, people expect a personalised digital experience.

What does it mean to personalise your members user experience?

Personalising your members user experience refers to tailoring the communications you send to your members based on what you already know about them. Although this might sound a little invasive, almost 74% of consumers expect to receive recommendations and correspondence relevant to them based on what information has already been supplied.

So how can you create a personalised member experience?

As you may have guessed, a personalised member experience requires a deep understanding of your members' needs, preferences, interests, behaviours, and pain points, and tailoring your communication, services, and training accordingly. By doing this, you can build a deeper connection with each member and create a sense of belonging that keeps them engaged and satisfied. Personalising the member experience doesn't have to be complicated. There are several simple and effective ways to do it, which we'll explore below.

First collect the member data.

To create a personalised member experience, you need to start by collecting member data. Depending on your tech-set-up, you may already have a membership system or platform that can do this for you. For example, with SwiftFox CRM for Membership you can automate data entry that will then automatically create profiles of all members, prospects supporters and your extensive network of contacts and organisations.

Data collection can include anything relevant to your organisation, but as a sample:

• Interests

• Previous interaction history

• Transaction history

• Main contact or (stakeholder leader at the organisation)

• Events attended

• Branch or membership location

• Payment and membership status and any arrears

• Reason they joined.

Using a membership platform such as SwiftFox for Membership you can create and update data automatically with surveys, feedback forms and email. You can also do this without a membership platform, by sending surveys or using social media, just be mindful of data security and email sharing.

With all of this data collected there are powerful additional possibilities in addition to creating personalised experiences. For example, in SwiftFox you can also now see on a members profile how likely they are to renew based on predictive modelling of all of this member data. Watch how this tool works in action, with our short Membership demo webinar.

Second, tailor the member data.

Once you have this data, it’s time to use it to tailor your communications, services, and offerings to each member's unique needs and preferences.

Automation can also be used to help deliver personalised experiences such as segmenting members into different groups and then delivering personalised messages to each group. Again, a Membership platform can be very useful here, as you can easily create segmented groups, and automate data entry. SwiftFox for Membership also allows you to tailor who is sending an email so that members always receive emails from the people closest to them.

Another good example of personalisation is data driven events and training. You can create member-exclusive events or experiences that cater to your different member segments. Such as training that’s been in demand, or a campaign issue that is particularly relevant to members. By taking these simple steps, you can create a personalised member experience that fosters engagement, loyalty, and member satisfaction.

By investing in personalisation, membership organisations can differentiate themselves from their competitors and help foster community, leading to increased member acquisition and retention. By understanding each member's unique needs, interests, and behaviour, you can create a connection that keeps them engaged and satisfied. Additionally, personalisation can lead to increased member retention, as members are more likely to remain loyal to an organisation that consistently provides a personalised experience.

Find out about SwiftFox for Membership here, or watch the launch of our new Membership features that include the ability to see whether or not a member will renew.

Understanding The Member Lifecycle

 Joining – Activating – Renewing

To understand why members join, stay or leave – you need to be across each stage of the member lifecycle. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie, understanding the stages your members go through is crucial for increasing membership numbers and keeping members engaged.

Stage 1: Joining

Let’s start at the very beginning. The journey begins with the joining and onboarding stage.

• Is your application process smooth and hassle-free?

• How long until a membership is approved?

• Do all your applications funnel through to the one spot?

Having the one-stop-shop hub for these applications is crucial. At SwiftFox, we call this the Action Centre and all applications for members can automatically be placed in a queue to be actioned. Some membership organisations we work with will then allocate a specific message to be received as soon as someone signs-on.

Our tips for the joining tag

1. Be quick – people want their dopamine hit. Have an email ready to go to send right away. Automate this email if possible.

2. Finetune your processes for receiving applications – do you assign an individual leader to each person?

Next step is to determine what information to ask members on joining. This is a great time to ask questions that can strengthen their membership experience. Ask questions about their interests, find out detail on why they joined and what they’re most wanting from your membership.  Finding out the information here that will be relevant to your organisation is crucial.

Stage 2: Active members

This is where the real magic happens, this is where members affirm their decision to be a part of your community. You have the power to retain members and keep them engaged by offering exciting offers, events, networking and training opportunities and so much more.  

Our pro tips to keep your members active members:

1. Create community

Firstly, facilitate quick connections.

• Do they know other members?

• Can you source them a mentor?

• Find ways to make their active membership status active.

Creating an engaging and supportive community should be one of the top priorities of any membership organisation.

To foster a sense of belonging, it’s important to find ways to connect with both members and supporters. Events where kids can attend, partners can get to know each other, and members can learn more about the organisation can help to deepen the community.

It’s also important to keep members engaged by providing meaningful content and sharing updates on events or upcoming initiatives.

Using a membership system for automation can help to make managing a large community easier and more efficient. Automations allow you to send out notifications for upcoming events or new information on time, as well as segment audiences to ensure the right people receive the right message. This can make it easier to create an engaging experience for members that will keep them coming back for more.'

2. Again, don’t forget to personalise!

Send them emails that are relevant and from people they know in the organisation, this will help make them feel like they’re part of something special. Generic emails from people in your organisation a member has no connection with almost always end up in junk!

Stage 3: Renewal

Now let's talk about renewal - the make-or-break moment. Make the renewal process easy and convenient and consider offering early bird incentives or discounts. Use this opportunity to gather feedback and find out what members value most about their membership. This will help you improve and expand your offerings.

Our pro tips for renewal

1. Consider contracting or using data scientists in-house. Data holds lots of answers, like who is most likely to renew or discontinue their membership. This can create significant savings for membership organisations. SwiftFox for Membership has this functionality in-built, so each member profile will display whether a member is likely to renew, at-risk of not renewing or highly likely to renew.

See how we’re showing membership organisations who is at risk, or likely to renew in our membership platform.

2. Targeted, personal communications (our buzz words again).  But what happens when members become inactive or drop off the radar? Don't throw in the towel just yet! Use personalised outreach and targeted communications to re-engage them and remind them of the value of their membership. Start with an email, then a text, follow it up with a call – don’t give up!

3. Gather feedback. If you can identify why someone left your organisation you can stop other members from leaving. So if members do decide to resign or are terminated, take the opportunity to gather feedback and learn from the experience.

Our Top 3 Rules for Member Retention

Data is your best friend when decision-making. We talked a little earlier about data, but it’s worth going into more detail because data really is the most powerful tool for understanding your members and creating strategies to boost member retention.

With the right data, you can identify your most engaged and happy members and create targeted campaigns that focus on those members.

Data can also be used to spot early warning signs of members becoming disengaged. and address any issues before it’s too late.

Additionally, by understanding the member journey and lifecycle, you can better anticipate their needs and create a good membership retention strategy.

Using data to personalise experiences for members is key for keeping them happy and engaged.

For example, if someone only ever opens your campaign emails, consider tailoring your communications to campaign and issue-based messaging, conversely, if someone is only interested in training – focus on training or educational messaging on campaigns.

By utilising data, you can also identify opportunities to increase touch-points with your members.

For example, you can send out a survey to get feedback on how they’re using your services and what they would like to see in the future. This can help you create an even better member experience that keeps them coming back.

With the right data-driven approach, you can boost member retention and ensure your members have the best experience possible.

Membership systems can make this seamless, as not only does a modern membership platform sort your data, but we can also help set-up systems for you to use based on your individual organisational needs.

SwiftFox is based in Australia, we are experts in working with membership organisations across Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, membership platforms like ours keep your data in Australia, and will never on-sell it.

Focus on Feedback

This has been a recurring theme but don’t be scared of feedback! One of the most important things organisations can do to reduce member churn and increase member engagement is to make it easier for members to give feedback.

Feedback can be invaluable in identifying issues that members may be experiencing, as well as opportunities for improvement.

When members feel that their feedback is valued and acted upon, they are more likely to remain engaged and invested in the organisation. But how can organisations make it easier for members to give feedback?

Our pro tips

1. Multiple channels for feedback. One option is to provide multiple channels for feedback, such as email, phone, and online forms. It's important to make sure that these channels are easy to find and use, and that members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.

2. Protocols in place for actioning feedback. Another important factor is to ensure that feedback is taken seriously and acted upon. Organisations should have a clear process in place for reviewing and addressing feedback and should communicate these processes to members. When members see that their feedback is being used to make positive changes within the organisation, they are more likely to remain engaged and invested.

3. Incentivise feedback, if appropriate. In addition, organisations should consider providing incentives for members who provide feedback. This could be in the form of discounts, rewards points, or other benefits. Not only does this incentivise members to provide feedback, but it also shows that the organisation values their input and is willing to invest in their satisfaction.

Overall, making it easier for members to give feedback is an essential component of any successful membership organisation. By providing multiple channels, taking feedback seriously, and offering incentives, organisations can ensure that their members remain engaged and invested for the long-term.

SwiftFox for Membership has multiple tools to gather feedback including surveys, emails, texts and calls. Watch the launch of our new Membership features here to find out more.

Ensure Seamless Payment Updates

One often overlooked factor in reducing churn is ensuring that your financial gateway is friction-free, and that if you are signing up for a membership platform they integrate with your particular payment system.

Too many memberships lapse because people forget to fill out a new credit card, and then lose interest, or become frustrated by the process of trying to renew.

People are busy, and they often forget to update their financial information when asked to do so. By integrating your membership platform and financial systems, you can automate this process and ensure that members' payment information is always up to date.

Furthermore, integrating your membership system and financial platform can provide you with valuable insights into member behaviour and financial trends, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement.

Note: While financial automation is always preferrable, it is not always possible - so it's also essential to make it easy for members to update their payment information. This can be done by providing multiple options for updating payment information, such as through an online portal, email, or phone call.

And make sure to communicate clearly and frequently about the importance of keeping payment information up to date to avoid any disruptions in membership benefits. By making it easy for members to update their payment information, you can reduce the risk of losing members due to frustration or inconvenience.

 And to finish, some engaging (and fun) retention ideas

1. Offering exclusive discounts and promotions to members for products and services related to your organisation's mission and values is a great way to keep your members engaged and connected to your organisation. By partnering with relevant businesses, you can provide your members with access to products and services that they are interested in at a discounted price. This creates a win-win situation where your members benefit from the discounts, and the businesses benefit from the increased exposure to your membership base. It's important to ensure that any data sharing necessary for these promotions is compliant with data privacy laws, so be sure to consult with legal experts before launching any promotions.

2. Hosting webinars and online events that provide value to your members is another effective way to keep your members engaged and informed. By providing expert panels, Q&A sessions, or industry-specific workshops, you can help your members stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in their field or industry. It's important to ensure that any data collected during these events is compliant with data privacy laws, so make sure to have a clear privacy policy and obtain appropriate consent from participants.

3. Creating a referral program that rewards members for bringing in new members to the organisation is a great way to incentivise your members to spread the word about your organisation. By offering rewards such as discounts on membership fees or exclusive content, you can encourage your members to become ambassadors for your organisation. However, it's important to ensure that any data sharing necessary for the referral program is compliant with data privacy laws, so consult with legal experts before launching any referral program.

4. Consider developing a member rewards program that incentivises members to participate in certain activities or achieve certain milestones is another effective way to increase engagement and retention. By offering rewards such as access to exclusive content or events, you can encourage your members to become more involved in your organisation. It's important to ensure that any data collected during the member rewards program is compliant with data privacy laws, so make sure to have a clear privacy policy and obtain appropriate consent from participants.

5. Conducting regular surveys and polls to gather feedback from members and using the data to make improvements to the organisation and its offerings is an essential part of keeping your members engaged and satisfied. By showing that you value their opinions and using their feedback to make changes, you can demonstrate your commitment to their needs and priorities. It's important to ensure that any data collected during the surveys and polls is compliant with data privacy laws, so make sure to have a clear privacy policy and obtain appropriate consent from participants.

6. Providing members with access to relevant and valuable content, such as research reports, industry insights, or best practice guides, is another effective way to keep your members engaged and informed. By curating content that is tailored to their interests and needs, you can demonstrate your expertise and value as an organisation. It's important to ensure that any data sharing necessary for providing this content is compliant with data privacy laws, so be sure to consult with legal experts before providing access to any content.

7. Collaborating with other organisations that share your mission and values to offer joint events, webinars, or other opportunities that benefit both organisations and their members is a great way to expand your reach and provide added value to your members. By working together, you can offer your members access to a wider range of expertise and resources.

8. Developing a mentoring program that connects newer members with more experienced members in their field or industry is another effective way to provide value to your members and facilitate connections between them. By offering opportunities for mentorship and networking, you can help your members build relationships and learn from each other. It's important to ensure that any data collected during the mentoring program is compliant with data privacy.

9. Video campaigns are an effective way to spread awareness about your organisation's mission and the importance of your work to the wider community. A well-crafted video can create an emotional connection with viewers and motivate them to support your cause. Whether you're highlighting the impact your organisation has had on individuals and communities or showcasing the work you do on a day-to-day basis, video is a powerful tool for increasing awareness and engagement.

To create a successful video campaign, start by defining your target audience and what messaging will resonate with them. You should also consider the channels where you will distribute your video, such as social media, email, or your organisation's website. It's important to ensure that your video is accessible and engaging to a broad audience, regardless of their level of familiarity with your organisation.

You can also leverage video to showcase your organisation's events and initiatives, such as fundraising campaigns or community outreach programs. By sharing videos that highlight the impact of your work, you can inspire others to get involved and support your cause. Additionally, video can be a powerful tool for showcasing the personal stories and experiences of your members and supporters, creating a sense of community and connection around your mission.

In conclusion, there are many ideas – but it all starts with data…

…and membership management software which analyses your data is essential to the success of your membership organisation. It helps you collect and organise member data, automate tedious manual processes, and personalise member journeys.

To maximise retention and improve prospect journeys, it’s important to get the right information from prospects from the start, provide a great onboarding experience, personalise the experience, use incentives strategically, and foster a community.

Additionally, taking advantage of automation features, reducing frictions with payment gateways, and leveraging tools offered by membership management software can make all these activities more efficient and effective.

If you’re interested in how SwiftFox for Membership can grow your membership organisation, have a watch of our latest membership demo, sign up to our mailing list, or even book in for a demo yourself. No lock-in or hard sells in our demos, we’ll just show you the platform and see if it suits!

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